Updated: Jul 3
July is upon us and the theme I am teaching in classes the yoga principal of contentment, or Santosha.
Put into practice.
Feeling content with things as they are, right now, nothing needs to change. With all my lessons, the best place to start the practice is on the mat. Once you feel you are understanding the principle, practicing it in real life through your day is even more challenging. Practicing contentment is one of the most freeing principles to practice. Free from expectations, one is able to release struggle in life.
When we are able to enter into a state of mind where everything is just as it should be, nothing needs to change, we are released from the heaviness of expectation, reaction, want, need and desire. We can achieve a new found freedom in our lives. When we accept things as they are showing up here and now, we lay down the heaviness of wanting things to be different then they are now.
This practice does not mean that we no longer work for improvement or goals in our lives. We are always looking to improve, or we wouldn't be on this path. But Santosha reminds us that things are showing up on the path to our goals the way they need to. If we are practicing contentment every moment than we may be led to our goals in an entirely different way than we had planned. We might be surprised that the universe is guiding us every minute, but we may be missing these promptings because we are expecting things to be different than they are showing up.
Being Content on the Mat
I try not to teach poses as if there is a right way and a wrong way. I get asked often, what is the right way to do this pose. It might seem like a terse answer, but I always say, the pose is right for your body. There is no right and wrong. Each person's postures will look different because our structures that we are building the posture over are different. Structure, bone shape, foretell how the postures will show up on each person's body. Injuries or illness will determine how the postures look as well. Therefore, there can be no universal right or wrong. As a teacher I am saying this is the anatomical alignment for this pose, if your body allows. Never push yourself into a posture. Don't worry about what your neighbor is doing, they have an entirely different posture than you.
For this month's theme, 'Freedom through Contentment' I am encouraging flow in the postures and body. One of the biggest challenges I face in teaching adults is that we all have forgotten how to move with freedom. We become rigid, stuck and self-conscious. In July classes I am going to instruct moving and flowing actions in most of the postures.
Some flowing movements will be subtle, some challenging. I will ask students to feel a sense of contentment in the postures by releasing the idea of postures looking a certain way and invite them to find modifications that fit their body better, accepting that things might turn up differently than we imaginged.
Below is the sequence I built based on opening the heart and moving in postures rather than feeling mired down in stillness and desire for things to be different than they are showing up in this moment.